Top historic sites in Gdánsk

Artus Court

The Artus Court (Dwór Artusa) was used to be the meeting place of merchants and a centre of social life. Today it is a point of interest of numerous visitors and a branch of the Gdańsk History Museum. The name was taken from the very popular medieval legend of King Arthur - a symbol of chivalry and gallantry. The heyday of the Artus Court falls into 16th and 17th century, but its history is much longer. The name of the ...
Founded: 1348-1350 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Main Town Hall

The main headquarters of the Gdańsk History Museum is a Gothic-Renaissance Main Town Hall, dominating the panorama of the Royal Route – the most representative route of the listed part of the city. The origins of the Town Hall, which from the very beginning was the seat of the authorities of the main Gdańsk area, from the 14th century referred to as the Main City, go back to the early Middle Ages. From the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Neptune's Fountain

Neptune's Fountain, in the center of Dlugi Targ has grown to be one of Gdansk's most recognizable symbols. The bronze statue of the Roman god of the sea was first erected in 1549, before being aptly made into a fountain in 1633. Like the city he represents, Neptune has had a storied history, himself - dismantled and hidden during World War II, old Neptune didn't come out of hiding until 1954 when he was restored to his ri ...
Founded: 1633 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church (Bazylika Mariacka) is the largest brick church in the world. According to tradition, as early as 1243 a wooden Church of the Assumption existed at this site, built by Prince Swantopolk II. The foundation stone for the new brick church was placed on on 25 March 1343. At first a six-span bay basilica with a low turret was built, erected from 1343 to 1360. Parts of the pillars and lower levels of the turre ...
Founded: 1343 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Green Gate

The Green Gate (Brama Zielona) is one of the city"s most notable tourist attractions. With the Golden Gate and the Highland Gate, the Green Gate spans the Long Market and Long Street, together comprising the Royal Route. The Green Gate was clearly inspired by the Antwerp City Hall. It was built 1568-1571 as the formal residence of Poland's monarchs. It is a masterpiece by Regnier (or Reiner van Amsterdam), an Amsterd ...
Founded: 1568-1571 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Gdánsk Crane

The Crane (Żuraw) is one of the defining symbols of Gdańsk and represents what little is left of the city’s great trading age. First mentioned in 1367, the original structure was burnt down in 1442 before its current design was created in 1442-1444. As a working crane it was used to transfer cargoes and to put up masts on ships. At one time this was the biggest working crane in the world but it also served ...
Founded: 1442-1444 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Golden Gate

Golden Gate (Złota Brama) is one of the most notable tourist attractions of the Gdánsk. It was raised in 1612–1614 in place of the 13th century Gothic gate. It forms a part of the old city fortifications. The gate was designed by architect Abraham van den Blocke and was constructed by Jan Strakowski. The architectural style of the gate is Dutch manierism. Next to it is the late-gothic building of the Bro ...
Founded: 1612–1614 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

St. Catherine's Church

St Catherine's Church is the oldest church in Gdańsk. The first record dates from 1185, when Prince Sobieslaw I built a wooden church. It was replaced with a stone church in 1227-1239. St. Catherine’s church evolved over centuries and only reached its final shape in the mid-15th century. It was a Protestant church from 1545 until 1945, after which it became a Roman Catholic church. There are several magnificent ...
Founded: 1227-1239 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers

The Monument to the fallen Shipyard Workers 1970 (Pomnik Poległych Stoczniowców 1970) was unveiled on 16 December 1980 near the entrance to what was then the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk. It commemorates the 42 or more people killed during the Coastal cities events in December 1970. It was created in the aftermath of the Gdańsk Agreement and is the first monument to the victims of communist oppression to ...
Founded: 1980 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Oliwa Cathedral

Oliwa Cathedral is dedicated to The Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary and St Bernard. The first Cistercian monastery on the site was founded by Sambor I of Gdánsk, Duke of Pomerania, in 1186. The first Romanesque oratory was burnt down in 1224 during the pagan Prussians crusade. It was rebuilt in 1234-1236, but destroyed again by Prussian crusade. In 1350 fire that was caused by chimney soot excess completely cons ...
Founded: 1578-1594 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Roads to Freedom Exhibition

Roads to Freedom Exhibition, opened on the 20th anniversary of the 1980 shipyard strikes, traces the history of the Solidarity movement and Poland's struggle to wriggle out of the grip of communism. The "Roads to Freedom" multimedia exhibit consists of two parts; in the outdoor portion you'll see a section of the Berlin Wall beside the wall Lech Walesa climbed to lead the shipyard workers, an armored tank used to put down ...
Founded: | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Westerplatte

Westerplatte is a long peninsula at the entrance to the harbour. When Gdańsk became a free city after WWI, Poland was permitted to maintain a post at this location, at the tip of the port zone. It served both trading and military purposes and had a garrison to protect it. WWII broke out here at dawn on 1 September 1939, when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein began shelling the Polish guard post. The garrison, whic ...
Founded: 1966 | Location: Gdańsk, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.